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IT’S ME, HILARY: THE MAN WHO DREW ELOISE (#HotDocs15 Review)

o-ITS-ME-HILARY-POSTER-570IT’S ME, HILARY: THE MAN WHO DREW ELOISE

Directed by Matt Wolf

I can’t say that I was all that familiar with this Eloise girl before seeing the HBO documentary, IT’S ME, HILARY: THE MAN WHO DREW ELOISE. I knew of her. I knew she was a spunky, little girl who lived at the Plaza Hotel in New York City but that was the extant of it. But now, thanks to a serendipitous encounter between Eloise animator, Hilary Knight, and Girls creator, Lena Dunham. Dunham has a tattoo of Eloise on her back and, in case you don’t know her award winning HBO series, Dunham is often seen without a shirt on. Knight became aware of this and one day, Dunham returned home to find a package directly from Knight. And now we have a movie about the man behind the precocious child.

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I quickly learned that Eloise is something of a pioneer. Her first book appeared in 1955 and was a huge success. She lived on the top floor of the Plaza Hotel, had no adult supervision and basically did whatever she wanted. She had scraggly hair and her stomach hung over her skirt and she quickly became a symbol of rebellion and unflinching pride for little girls everywhere. Eloise was conceived by Kay Thompson, a radio star and film actress, with a lot of personality. Thompson and Knight made four books together while she was alive but their relationship ended abruptly and poorly. Knight surmises in the film that Thompson resented not being able to handle both the Eloise stories and the drawings. Whatever the reason for the termination of their relationship, Knight was no longer allowed to draw Eloise, his one claim to fame at the time.

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Dunham puts it best in the film when she likens Knight and Thompson’s relationship to a failed marriage and Eloise as the child they fought for custody over. Thompson would go on to find other forms of success with his art but nothing would ever come close to his connection with Eloise. IT’S ME, HILARY: THE MAN WHO DREW ELOISE captures that journey brilliantly while also shedding a little light on the man behind the girl.

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IT’S ME, HILARY: THE MAN WHO DREW ELOISE will have its International Premiere at the HotDocs Canadian International Documentary Festival as part of the Next program, which highlights the arts, creativity, music and pop culture. It will be preceded by THE 100 YEARS SHOW, directed by Alison Klayman.

Screening Schedule …

Tuesday, April 28, 7:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

Wednesday, April 29, 4:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

Friday, May 1, 4:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

For more information and for tickets, please visit hotdocs.ca.

Your turn!

How many sheep would you give It’s Me, Hilary?

 

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